Is pael an intensive/plural form of peal in Syriac?

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The present study seeks to investigate the relationship of the G and D stems in Syriac. The corpus for the investigation is that of the Syriac New Testament. Verbs that occur in both G and D are examined in an effort to determine if the D forms of the verbs do indeed exhibit intensivity/plurality, or if, as in some Hebrew and Aramaic dialects, the D stem has lost its intensive/plural function and become merely a variant of the G stem. The results of the investigation suggest that the most significant difference between the two stems is that the D stem frequently marks a plurality of objects with regard to a G transitive verb; in several verbs, however, the D stem is used to mark sg. objects. Occasionally, there is no discernible difference between the two stems. In the light of some Hebrew and Aramaic dialects in which one finds that some verbs move from the G stem to the D stem, where they do not mark intensivity/plurality, it is not surprising to find that the D stem in the Syriac New Testament is not limited to expressing plurality of objects. Although they constitute a minority of forms, the examples of D verbs with sg. objects are too numerous and well distributed over different verbs to be ignored. One result of the investigation is that use of the G stem is not restricted to sg. objects. It may also govern pl. objects, e.g., where more than half of the objects are plural. This is not the picture of G drawn by the Syriac lexicographers, who assign the G stem of a verb a single object and the D stem plural objects.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)395-431
Number of pages37
JournalJournal Asiatique
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Conjugation
  • Pael
  • Peal
  • Syriac
  • Verb


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